Today we’re having an in-depth conversation with Dan Wendler all about marketing a private practice.
Today’s Private Practice Sponsor
PoP Culture Meet Dan Wendler
Daniel Wendler is a doctoral student in clinical psychology. Before pursuing a career in psychology, he worked as an online marketing consultant, and wrote a successful online social skills guide. Today, he combines his skills in psychology and marketing to help therapists market themselves online.
He’s passionate about sharing his marketing skills with the mental health community because when it’s easier for therapists to market themselves, it’s easier for people in need to find the right therapist. Read his free online marketing guide for therapists, and connect with him at DanielWendler.com.
What you’ll discover in this private practice podcast:
7:44 How to get my attention
13:50 How to have a membership area of a website to charge money
21:32 How to build loyalty and trust to earn influence and an income
28:34 How saving other people time will make you money
40:43 How to change pages to redirect for a better customer experience
50:41 What every counselor in the world must know
50:58 The amazing give away Dan is giving!
Website and Marketing Resources Mentioned in the Podcast
- Dan’s article on Practice of the Practice: 4 Common Therapist Website Mistakes (and how to fix them)
- Dan’s website Marketing for Therapists
- Website hosting for WordPress
- S2 Member plug-in to create paid membership sites
- Caching plug-ins: Zen Cache and WP Super Cache
- Dan’s Improve Your Social Skills website
- Google Adwords Tips article that Dan found after the interview
- Joe’s Website 101 Walk Through for Therapists
- Review my Podcast
Dan’s TEDx Talk
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC
Joe Sanok is an ambitious results expert. He is a private practice business consultant and counselor that helps small businesses and counselors in private practice to increase revenue and have more fun! He helps owners with website design, vision, growth, and using their time to create income through being a private practice consultant.
Joe was frustrated with his lack of business and marketing skills when he left graduate school. He loved helping people through counseling, but felt that often people couldn’t find him. Over the past few years he has grown his skills, income, and ability to lead others, while still maintaining an active private practice in Traverse City, MI.
To link to Joe’s Google+ .
Here is the Transcription of This Podcast
Quick tips to grow a client base An interview with Dan Wendler
This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, Session 88. I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and I am really glad that you’re taking time out of your day to listen. It is so fun to get emails from people when they are doing random things while they’re listening to the podcast. I think it’d be really fun if you posted some pictures on the Instagram of you listening to the podcast and kind of where you’re at and just tag me. It’s just pracaticeofthepractice, and that’s on Instagram. I think that’ll be super fun because I keep getting these emails, and I’m the only one that gets to laugh at it, and people are getting their nails done while they’re listening to it or they’re running or they’re doing their dishes with their kids and they feel like I’m always a part of their evening routine when they’re drinking their glass of wine. I mean, all of these are just hilarious things. So tag me on the Instagram. That’d be awesome.Well, today’s sponsor – I am super excited. A number of episodes ago – I probably should have prepared for exactly which episode it is. Let me look it up. We had Perry from Brighter Vision on the Practice of the Practice Podcast, and he just gave us so much value. Let me look up exactly what that number was. It was a couple of months ago.
So let’s see. Perry. Perry, Perry, Perry. Perry, Perry, Perry, where are you, Perry? Oh man. I should have done this ahead of time. Sorry guys. I didn’t mean to waste your time. Looks like it is, oh, Session 70. So if you go to practiceofthepractice.com/session70, we have Perry from Brighter Vision, Perry Rosenbloom. He is the man behind that gave us all these awesome tips about just ranking and websites, and from that, he said he had so many people contact him because of just the quality of that interview and just how much content he gave away that he had a ton of people that wanted their websites made through him, through Brighter Vision.
And so he came on as a two-month sponsor, which is just unreal that Perry’s investing in you guys, in this audience, in paying me to be able to take time doing this rather than my clinical work, because obviously, if I don’t make some money doing a podcast, then I should just be probably doing some counseling or something like that or otherwise, it’s just a hobby. And for me, I obviously want to help you, but I also need to like make ends meet. I’m taking time with my family doing this, and Brighter Vision is so awesome. They’re a world-wide leader in therapist website design. It’s all they do, is therapist websites.
Over the last six months, they’ve built over 200 – 200 therapist websites, all of them mobile-friendly, custom-designed, they have call to actions for your potential clients to contact you, which are all like the best practices, and for 59bucks a month, you get a professional mobile-friendly, beautiful website that’s totally unique to your practice. You get unlimited tech support, which let me just tell you, I, over the last two days, screwed up my website.
I was trying to get everything installed for this smart podcast player for the new How to Become a Consultant Podcast. I don’t know what I did, and Aaron, from Legendary Lion, my guy, he is going to help me work on it. But if I was working with Perry, I could call him up and be like, “I just screwed up my website. A little bit of help here.” They do unlimited tech support, so you don’t have to deal with any of those tech headaches. Like for example, my redirect right now for becomeaconsultanttoday.com isn’t redirecting. Like it just freezes. I just bought theconsultantschool.com so that I can launch this new consultant school thing that I’m working on, so I had to send the exact link out to my email list rather than just having be theconsultantschool.com. So hopefully in the future, that redirect works. It was working earlier today. But I don’t know why. It’s just not working. It’s so freaking frustrating. But if Perry were my guy, he’d be on that like – I can’t think of a good metaphor.
Also, their therapist website templates like really rock. They’re so beautiful. Don’t settle for boring templates. I mean, there’s just so many websites that look like they’re stuck in the 1990s or earlier. I mean, I would guess that most people that do consulting with me like right away, I’m like, “Update your website.” Like, “Don’t even talk to me because… ” I don’t say that I am way nicer than that. I mean, my consulting clients would say that, but like updating your website to look beautiful is like the first thing that you should be doing.
And Perry is giving an awesome offer. If you go to brightervision.com/joe, it’s going to be like you’re going to get a discount. Only 30 people get it. I think he’s giving 10 bucks off a month. He didn’t say in the email exactly how much, but I’m telling you, like this guy, they’re doing awesome. It’s a great, really easy, simple entry level into websites if you’re not ready to pay for a full-on website.
So check them out. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe. I know that’s like a longer kind of pitch at the beginning, but honestly, like in talking to Perry, I met him at ACA in person at the National Conference, and just how they’ve gone from being a website design company to then honing in on “We just want to do websites for therapists,” like they know what they’re doing. And it really connects in with our guest today. We’re talking with Daniel Wendler today all about websites, web design, all sorts of other things, and it’s just super cool to see what Daniel is doing. Daniel’s a doctoral student in clinical psychology, but before pursuing a career in psychology, he worked in online marketing as an online marketing consultant, and he wrote a successful online study skills guide, which he’s going to talk about – or I’m sorry, not study skills, social skills guide. So he combines those skills, psychology and marketing to now help therapists.
So this guy’s not even graduated from his doctoral program, and he’s out there just rocking it out. He’s passionate about sharing his marketing skills with mental health community because it’s so much easier than ever for people to market themselves. It’s just so crazy how easy it is now. And he has a guest blog post on Practice of the Practice, and we’re going to have all of that in the show notes, which is going to be practiceofthepractice.com/session88, and I’ll give that to you at the end of the show as well, and he actually has a special giveaway for you guys that totally blows my mind.
So by the end of this interview, you will have discovered some simple tweaks you can do to your own website. I actually learned something that I installed on my website. It was a plugin for my WordPress website that has sped up my website. Just these really quick and simple things, if you’re brand new to your website, and then a few advanced things if you are maybe like me and you think you know it all and you knew that will smack down. That’s what Daniel did. You’ll hear it live, him smacking me down. He was really nice about it.
So without any further ado, I give you Daniel Wendler.
Well, Dan, welcome to the podcast.
DW: I’m excited to be here.
Joe Sanok: Yeah, this is awesome. Just a couple of weeks ago, you sent me an e-mail, and we just kind of started talking over e-mail, and here you are on the podcast. So welcome!
How to get my attention
DW: Thank you. Yeah, I’ve really been impressed with what you’ve been doing through site. I feel like you’ve got a good audience that I love to share some ideas with.
Joe Sanok: Yeah. So why don’t we just start with like who’s Dan?
DW: Okay. Well, it can be a big question or a little question, depending. I mean, sort of my professional background, I spent about four years working in the online marketing world with a particular focus in search engine marketing, so like getting traffic through the Google and Bing search engines, and I was recently successful with that, but that was just not what I was passionate about. That’s not what I wanted my life to be about, so I did some soul-searching, and then I decided to go switch careers and go to grad school to become a clinical psychologist so that I could be doing much more work that I found meaningful, but I still had all of my old marketing skills. And so I decided to launch marketingfortherapists.org to sort of take what I’ve learned about all my marketing and share it with other mental health professionals because I feel that the better that therapists are at marketing themselves, the easier it is going to be for people to find a good therapist, and that just helps everybody.
Joe Sanok: That’s awesome. And you know there’s so few therapists that even have even just an inclination towards marketing, and the fact that you like had a whole career that you were doing and like – that sets you up for a lot of success, for sure.
So tell me a little bit about the website. So when did you launch it, and what kind of things are you exploring on the website?
DW: Yeah, so marketingfortherapists.org, it officially launched just a couple of months ago. I’ve been working on it for a few months prior to that, and really, what I wanted it to be was just a practical sort of easy-to-follow guide for people who wanted to get online and who wanted to start attracting clients through their website, through their directories, things like that, and really just avoid a lot of the common pitfalls. I didn’t want to – I mean, I could write 500 pages and cover every single topic or I could get really technical, but I didn’t want to do that because there’s technical guides out there already. What I wanted to do was create a resource for people that didn’t really know what they were doing, maybe felt a little bit intimidated, but knew that it was important, and I wanted to show them it’s not that hard, it’s not that scary. There are some simple things that you can do that will really make a big difference.
Joe Sanok: Now, and you – before we started recording, you were talking about a website that you have and how you’ve been able to kind of validate some of the things that you’re teaching people. So maybe talk about your actual experience in doing this with your social skills website, because I think those practical like, “Here’s how I did it with my website,” is going to really resonate with people.
DW: Yeah. So back in 2012, I launched a website, improveyoursocialskills.com, and I have been working in the marketing world, but I’d only been using my skills for clients, and so improveyoursocialskills.com was sort of a chance for me to take everything that I learned and see how does this work for myself or how does it work when it’s starting from scratch, starting from zero, and how does work when it’s something that I’m passionate about? Because – I mean, you can read sort of my full story on the website, but I had struggled socially a lot growing up, and I had become really passionate about social acceptance and people having relationships, and so I wanted to create a resource that would help people kind of break down the barriers that make it hard for people to find friendships.
And so sort of similar to Marketing for Therapists, I wanted to make a kind of a concrete beginners’ guide that would show people, “You know what? It’s not as hard as you think it is to learn some social skills, have conversations, make friends,” and so I spent several months writing the guide and then I put it online, and then I’m like, “Okay, how do I get people to find this?” because that’s always the challenge.
And so what I ended up doing is I had a lot of learning that happened in two areas: one was in the web design area because back in middle school, I had had an old Geocities site, but other than that, I had not any kind of website design. I didn’t know or look at HTML. But there’s a lot of free resources out there, and there’s a lot of free plugins, things like that. That’s why I usually recommend that people go with WordPress as their software for building their site because anything you want to do with WordPress, somebody’s probably built a little plugin that you can install, and that will add that feature to your site. So I started to teach myself –
Joe Sanok: Let me just pause you right there. So for people that don’t know what a plugin is, will you just kind of give them like the quick abbreviated version of like, “Here’s plugins 101.”
DW: Yeah, for sure. So you can kind of think of it – so WordPress is this software that powers a website, and you could have software that power a website. WordPress a good option because it’s free and it’s very popular, so it’s very well supported. And the basic WordPress functionality, it can do a few things, but it can’t do that many, and then a plugin is like a little extra feature that you can add on to WordPress that somebody has programmed. That’s kind of like if you have a smartphone, your smartphone, when it comes to right out of the box, it can do a few things, but then, you can download an app and that allows the smartphone to do something else. A plugin is just like that, except for WordPress. So if you want your WordPress website to be able to collect people’s email addresses for your newsletter, you can install a plugin that will very easily do that. And a lot of these plugins are free. Some of them cost a little bit of money, but usually, the price is pretty reasonable.
How to have a membership area of a website to charge money
Joe Sanok: So for your social skills website, what were some of the plugins that you added to that website?
DW: Yeah. So one plugin that was a big plugin that worked for that website specifically was something called s2Member, and what that allowed me to do was have a membership area of the site that I could charge for access to, because that was the business model of the Improve Your Social Skills Site, where about half of the content was free, and then half of the content required you to pay for a membership to get access to it.
And so s2Member allowed me to set it up so that people could make a payment through PayPal, get a user account, and be able to access this part of this site, and it was all – I didn’t have to program anything, I didn’t have to talk to anybody at PayPal. It just did it for me. And so that was one big plugin that was really helpful.
Another plugin that mattered a lot was a caching plugin, because WordPress, out of the box, it’s a little bit slow; it’s not very efficient, and so your website can sometimes load kind of slowly, which is bad for your user experience because if somebody has to wait several seconds to load every page they’re going to be like, “This is boring. I’m going to go play Candy Crush” or whatever.
Joe Sanok: That’s actually something I learned from your blog post that’s going to be going live soon on Practice of the Practice or did it already go live? I’d have to check. But that guest post that you did for Practice of the Practice, I had never even heard of that, and so like that was super useful that you were talking about that. So sorry to interrupt you, but I got really excited there. Bad social skills.
DW: It’s okay. No, I get excited about it too because it’s like these simple changes that you can make to your website that makes such a huge difference, because when my website was first running, my pages were taking six, seven seconds to load, which is very slow. I can only imagine that you’re reading a book and every time you want to turn the page, you got to wait six, seconds for that page to turn, you’re going to put the book down and do something else, and then I installed a caching plugin. There’s a couple of different options out there, and they’re all fine. I recommend ZenCache. It’s the easiest option, and WP Super Cache is a little bit harder to set up but has a little bit more power. So either of those two are usually the ones that I would recommend.
Joe Sanok: Are those free plugins?
DW: Yes, totally free.
Joe Sanok: Okay, cool.
DW: Yeah. So I remember like installing that and then having my page load time like drop in half just because I clicked install on a free plugin and I turned it on, and suddenly, my website was twice as fast for everybody that was visiting, and like that, that just felt so cool. It was like discovering a secret.
Joe Sanok: That’s awesome. Well, and I’m like wow! I wonder if that’s part of my bounce rate, where people come to your site, it doesn’t load that quick, they just bounce away.
DW: Yeah. I mean, that’s part of the fun part of running a website. I mean, you can sort of get lost in the rabbit trails, because you’re like, “Let me look at this. Let me look at this,” but that really does sort of get to an important point, is that like if you have a website, you’ve got this data that you can collect about if somebody comes to your site, how long do they stay and how frequently do they leave, and where do they come from, and just taking a little bit of time to look at that data and make decisions based on it can really lead to dramatic improvements about your website. Like with my social skills site, I was looking at my data and I noticed that most of my traffic was coming in through my, How to Make Conversation Guide, rather than through the main page. In, my How to Make Conversation Guide, I had set it up in 2012 when I first launched the website, and I hadn’t touched it since.
And so a lot of the people that were coming to this page, they were looking at my 2012 skills on web design and they were like, “I don’t want to read this,” and they were leaving, and so I went back and I redesigned it, and I’m not like the best web designer in the world, but I’m certainly a lot better than I was back when I first made this site, and so I redesigned it, and my bounce rate dropped by a third. And so every day, that’s more people that are reading my site, and the same thing can be true for like a therapist website. Like maybe somebody’s coming in and they’re reading an article that you wrote about something or other, and you wrote that article years ago and you’re not even thinking about it anymore, but if you go back and you edit it a little bit to maybe say, “Hey, I’m running an online workshop on anxiety,” or “Hey, if you live in the area and you want to get therapy, here’s the button to call me.” Like even just a simple change like that can make a big difference if you apply it to a page where you’re getting traffic.
And that’s the sort of thing that you realize when you look at the data, and it’s not rocket science. You don’t have to have a PhD in computer science. It’s just a matter of looking at some numbers and saying like, “Oh, that’s a really big number (indiscernible 00:18:37) this particular page for the traffic.”
Joe Sanok: Wow. So with your social skills site, did you look for a certain number of people that would convert like, “I want 10% of my readers to convert to paid members” or any sort of numbers like that? I know people, on this podcast in particular, really like hearing like hard numbers, like anything you’re willing to share around that.
DW: Yeah. So it’s a little bit complex for me because I have – yeah, I definitely do not look at the 10% conversion rate, unfortunately, although it’s complex for a couple of reasons. One is that I have multiple ways that you can sort of get my content. So you can buy a membership or you can buy my book in the Amazon Kindle Store or you can get an audio book. And it’s a little bit difficult to slurp all of that together and kind of tell out of everybody that’s visiting how many people are becoming customers, and part of it is also that like the mission of this site is not necessarily to sell as many guides as possible, but it’s sort of to have the most impact and reach the most number of people. So my metrics tend to be much more about traffic and about engagement.
Joe Sanok: Sure.
DW: And so I can share that I generally have about 1,500 people coming to the site on an average day. I generally have maybe 50% to 40% – sort of depends on where they come from, but 50% to 40% stick around and read through the content, and then 50%, 60% bounce and go do something else, although that number is improving as I’m sort of implementing these different changes.
How to build loyalty and trust to earn influence and an income
And yeah, I’m not sure what other numbers would be really interesting, other than to say that I have found that the more generous that I’ve become with my content, generally, the more that my conversion and my revenue numbers go up. Like when I started the site, originally, I charged $15 for everything. And then I switched to a model where it was pay what you want and you could sort of pay any amount, and then my revenue went up, and then I added an option where if you couldn’t afford it or if you didn’t have a credit card, you could send me an email and offer to do a good deed, and then I would give you a membership for free because it doesn’t cost me anything to make you a login, and then my revenue again went up, because when I – I mean, because there’s so many people out there that are just in it for the dollar. Like there’s so many people that decide, “I’m going to sit down. I’m going to bang out a ‘Seven Tricks for Manipulating Anybody’ PDF,’” and they just want to make money off of it, and so when people experience something that’ sort of genuine, that builds loyalty, and it ultimately ends up with them saying, “You know what? I really like what you’re doing. I’m going to buy three copies and give them to my friends,” or “I’m going to pay more than I have to in this ‘pay what you want’ scheme because I really support you.”’
And so there is sort of like this cool synergy where as I sort of leaned into my purpose for the site, and I tried to like manage the site with more integrity for what I believed in, it ended up having a good business outcome, also.
Joe Sanok: That’s super cool. So I imagine like some random listener right now. They’re like, “Oh, I’m going to start a members’ site”, like that’s going to be a great way to like stop working and it’ll be just be automated, like what advice would you have for someone that’ says, “I want to launch a members’ site that has good content,” like of course, like that side of it, but that they want to have that be a new revenue stream?
DW: Yeah. So I would say a couple of things. One is that you have to have a way to get the traffic, because less than 1% of my traffic converts, and I mean, like maybe if I gave less away, if I was more focused on just wringing dollars out of people that would change, like I kind of don’t think so. I kind of think that there’s just a limited number of people that are willing to pull up their credit cards. Less than 1% of my traffic converts, and so given that I’m getting over 1,000 visitors a day, like that works pretty well for me.
Joe Sanok: Sure.
DW: But if you’re getting five visitors a day, then you’re probably not going to see a lot of money anytime soon, unless people are spending thousands of dollars on your site.
So I would say one thing is to figure out how to have like a reliable stream of traffic. And usually, what that requires is for you to give away a significant amount for free, because generally, nobody’s going to link to a paywall. They’re going to link to, “Hey, you’ve got this free guide that’s really good, and you can read that totally for free, and then there’s also this paid stuff if you want more.” People are going to be willing to link to that. People are going to be willing to tweet about that because it’s not just, “Hey, go buy this thing.” It’s, “Hey, you can get this resource for free.”
So I would say make sure that you’ve got content that is free and is quality that can attract that traffic, and I would say the other thing is try to make a personal connection with the people that would be becoming members, because again, there’s a lot of content out there. Like most any topic, people can go to the bookstore, they can buy a book about it. So why is somebody going to pay for a membership from you about something? Usually, it’s because they want to have a sense of a personal connection with a person that’s offering the membership.
So for me, a few years ago, I gave a TEDx Talk about sort of my story of social skills and things of that nature, and so a lot of the people that become members are people that have seen that TEDx Talk, and they’re like, “Man, I resonated with your story. I really believe in what you’re doing. I kind of want to be a part of it.” And the fact that my website, like my – I let my personality sort of come through my website because it gives people sense like, “I’m a real person. I’m not just some guy that hired a ghost writer,” or like “I wrote every word. This is what I believe. This is what worked for me,” and that creates a connection.
So if you want to make a membership site that says, “Hey, here are some helpful things for managing your emotions,” or “Hey, if you’re a beginner therapist, here are some practical tools for starting your career,” or whatever, that’s fine, but really, don’t farm up the content, don’t make it seem sterile and impersonal because people can just buy a book for that. Make it seem like they’re sitting down with you at a coffee shop and you’re mentoring them, and people are going to be much more willing to sign up for that.
Joe Sanok: I love that idea of having your personality come out. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that I don’t usually edit my podcast. Like even if I like leave my coffee across the room or if I cough or like I make myself laugh over dumb things, it’s like if people feel like they are just sitting here with me and it’s not all edited out, to me, that’s way more personal and way more fun than if – I don’t know, I just edited every “um” or “like” or you know, a thing out.
So it sounds like also, if people wanted to launch a membership website or any website for that matter, making sure that you have some sort of personal connection to the topic, and I love the idea that you have stories of your own social skills in your social skills development so that you can say, “Hey, here’s where I was. This is why I care about it. Here’s where I am now,” like things can change for you, and here’s how I’m teaching people how to do that.
DW: Yeah. I mean, it’s not an accident that the beginning of my guide is a manifesto where I talk about like, “This is what I believe. This is my purpose for the guide,” and it’s designed to get people excited, like I had a reviewer like post on my Amazon page, like I read the manifesto in the free preview, and like I started to cry, and like I’m a big, tough dude and that doesn’t happen, so I had to buy the book.
Obviously, I’m happy to create an emotional connection with somebody even if they don’t buy my stuff, but that’s – I mean, I think that the world that we live in is really starved for authenticity. It’s starved for connection. It’s starved for people that are sort of willing to put their real self out there, and so I think that if you’re willing to do that, then yeah, that’s going to encourage people to be interested in what you have to say, whether it’s a membership site, whether it’s your therapy site and people are considering seeing you as their therapist, whether it’s whatever, within the bounds of professionalism and all of that, but if you can create an image of yourself that’s genuine and that invites people to connect, even if it means that they get to hear your coughing and your strange laughter sometimes, I think that people are hungry for that, and I think the people resonate with that, and they appreciate the honesty there.
How saving other people time will make you money
Joe Sanok: Well, and Dan, tell me what you think about this, because I think that like there’s so much information out there that my impression is that when people find someone they can trust, so they trust Dan talking about social skills. They don’t really want to go out and just read on Wikipedia about social skills. They are willing to pay for it because they now trust you, they know what you’re going to say, they know you have a story, and it almost saves them the time of having to go read 50 million websites that are on social skills because they know, “Hey, Dan comes from the same perspective as me, and he’s gone through it and he gives really good advice, so anything he sells, like I’m probably going to buy, because I just want to save myself the time going through all that information.”
DW: Yeah. No, I think that there’s definitely something to that that if you’ve got an expert, credible source, like it’s exhausting to have to sort through all of the different, sometimes contradictory advice or information that’s out there, and if you can just go to one source that you’re like, “You know what? This is credible. I can trust it,” then it saves you a lot of trouble and you’re going to have a lot of loyalty there.
I think another piece of it is also that if their story can inspire hope, a lot of times that will again create this connection because there are people that – they read my story, they hear my TED Talk, and they’re like, “I didn’t think that I could ever make friends. I didn’t think that I could ever learn how to connect with somebody else, and then I see your story and I see that you’ve done that, and I see that you really believe that other people can do it too, and that makes me believe that maybe I have hope for myself.” And so that kind of hope can be really infectious, and that is, I think, another reason why people want to connect with somebody being vulnerable, because if I was just like this cold, sterile – like putting down a lot of advice without any warmth to it, I mean, it could still be good advice, but it’s not – if somebody has given up, the best advice in the world isn’t going to get them started again. They need something more than that.
Joe Sanok: Yeah. Wow, that’s great. So when therapists are first learning about marketing, so we’ve got someone – that traditional route. They did an undergraduate in social work, they did graduate school in counseling. No marketing, no business classes at all. I would say that’s 90 some percent of most therapists I talk to. Where do they start? Like what are like the top three or top five steps they can take right from nothing?
DW: Yeah. So I would say the first overarching step is to see how far you can go without spending very much money at all. Like the first several years that I ran my social skills site, it took me years of running that site before I got to the point that I had spent more than $100 on it, which is kind of nuts because I could have started off and paid $500 for a logo right off the bat, but I didn’t. I went to like some forum and I’m like, “Does somebody want to make me a logo?” and somebody did, and that was enough to get started, and then later on, I could make it better.
And so there’s a lot of – I mean, it’s kind of like in the Old Gold Rush out West. The people that most consistently got rich were not the gold miners but the people that were selling the shovels and the pickaxes. And so there are lot of people that want to take your money, and it’s very easy to say, “Okay, I’m going to do marketing, and so let me give $500 to that guy and let me give $100 to that and let me sign up for this services,” $60 a month, and you’re doing all of these things and you don’t really have the knowledge to be able to assess if this is helpful or not or if you’re getting your money’s worth.
And so my big overarching thing that I would recommend is start from a place that’s very frugal, and try to see how much can I do spending like a very small amount of money. So like a website. You can hire a professional developer to make a website for you and charge thousands of dollars or you could get WordPress or get Weebly and spend a couple of bucks a month and see, “What I can make myself?” like “Maybe down the road, I’ll hire somebody to make this better, but what can I do on my own,” or with marketing, again, you can spend a bunch of money to take out an ad in the newspaper, or you can see what would happen if I just get on the phone and I call up a bunch of like churches and hospitals and whatever, and try to like build relationships with people that can send referrals my way.
And so that would sort of be the first thing to – I mean, don’t be afraid of spending money if you’ve got a good chance that there’s going to be return, but don’t spend money just to spend money. See what you can do for free first because that forces you to be creative and that forces you to learn, and that knowledge is really going to come in handy later. So that would be my first thing, is to try to be frugal on how you start.
My second thing would be to get online. Get a website and then get listed in all of the major places where you can get listed for free. So get in Google My Business. Maybe even get a Yelp listing. If there are any local directories, like your city has a directory of health professionals, just call them up and ask if you can get in that directory. Basically, anywhere that you can get online without needing to spend a lot of money. Do that, and again, make sure that you have a website, and the website is not terrible, because there are – I mean, I know for myself and for a lot of my peers being in my 20s, if I’m looking for a therapist and they don’t have a website, I’m not even going to call them.
Joe Sanok: And if they have an ugly website, you probably won’t call them either.
DW: Yeah, exactly. Like I was helping a friend look for therapist websites and there were several therapists that I saw that had really solid credentials. Like they had been practicing for many years, they had solid degrees from solid schools, and their website looked like something out of the `90s, and I’m like, “I’m not even going to call this person,” and maybe that’s bias. Like maybe they would have been a great therapist, but a lot of people are going to think like that, and there’s really no excuse. Like again, even if you don’t want to drop $1,000 on a professional designer, there’s a lot of services that will let you build a basic website that looks just fine for a very few dollars per month.
So step one is to go into it with this mindset that says, “I’m not going to spend money unless I have to.” Number two is to get a website that is a good and functional website, and like show it to people. Like show it to your friends and be like, “I want your honest feedback,” and ask people to use it. Even like post on Craigslist and be like, “Hey, I want to get a bunch of college students and I’ll pay you $5 to look at my website and tell me what’s wrong with it,” because the average college student probably can. They maybe can’t tell you exactly how to fix it, but they can be like, “This doesn’t look right” or whatever.
So step one, be frugal; step two, get your basic website, and then I would say step three is to establish yourself as an expert at least in some areas, and what I would recommend is pick one or two areas where you’ve got a particular passion or a particular expertise, and then start writing content about that, either on your site or guest posting. Like a lot of places if you just email them nicely and ask and say, “Hey, I have this expertise.” They’ll say, “Great. I don’t have to write this week. Please write a guest post,” and if you are able to establish yourself as an expert in anxiety or depression or a certain population or a certain therapeutic technique or whatever, then that gives you such great credibility compared to somebody that just has a website that says, “Yeah, I’m a therapist, and I treat basically everything.” Like if I’ve got PTSD, am I going to want to go to a therapist that where PTSD is one of the 30 things that they say that they treat or am I going to go to the guy that has written article for the local newspaper about PTSD? I’m going to go with the guy that has established himself as an expert. So those are what I think – sorry, go ahead.
Joe Sanok: So those three, I think that’s such a good format. I was just looking at somebody’s Psychology Today profile. They had emailed me and said, “I don’t understand why I’m not getting clients. I’ve had this Psychology Today profile for two months, I’ve got a website,” and so I sent her some quick tips and like she had that – her price range was like $30 to $60. She saw people in Psychology Today. You can say which populations, and it went from zero all the way to like death.
And I’m just like, “You have 50 different things you do,” like, “decide who are the two or three age groups that you work with. Raise your rates and don’t have this big range. Just say $95 for the sliding fee scale so you don’t look like you’re cheap,” and she did that, and that same day, she got her first referral. And it was just like you’re so right, that when you have a very specific group that you’re going to focus on, if like that PTSD, you’re going to go with the person that’s the perceived expert, even if that other person has the same skill set.
DW: Right, yeah. It’s about putting front and center that I have this credibility rather than bearing it amidst a lot of like irrelevant stuff. That’s also like one of the basic principles of designing a website, like you want to – when somebody lands on your website, you want to make it really easy and really obvious for them to do the thing that you want them to do. So if you want them to sign up for a session, you want that to be really front and center, and a lot of people bury it under a lot of other stuff. It’s the same thing with your credentials.
Joe Sanok: Or they have a million other things that they can click on. Like, why should I pin this post when you want them to schedule a counseling session?
Joe Sanok: Why is your Facebook group and your Pinterest and your Twitter feed right there when you’re supposed to be scheduling a session?
DW: Right, yeah. You just want them streamlined. You can have all of the other stuff. Just don’t make that be the first thing. Make the first thing the first thing, and then stick everything else in whatever the equivalent is of the appendix for your website.
Joe Sanok: What are a couple like more advanced techniques? So someone kind of gets those three things down, they’re maybe in private practice a couple of years, and they’re like, “Okay. I’ve even maybe got a couple of clinicians working for me and I want to get either paid traffic,” like what are some more advanced marketing?
How to change pages to redirect for a better customer experience
DW: Yeah. So one would be to dig into the technical side of SEO a little bit more, and the basics of SEO are pretty basic. Like it’s to write good, quality content, and make sure that the content mentions the phrases that you want people to search for, and then get people to link to you. That’s the basics of SEO, and it’s pretty straightforward. The more technical stuff, it’s not rocket science, but it requires you to do a little bit of research, it requires you to do a little bit of trial and error, but it pays dividend. So if you’re willing to like dig in and figure out what a meta-description is and figure out the value of canonical redirect and all of those things, then you can make, again, some fairly simple tweaks, once you know what you’re doing. That can lead to some pretty good results.
Joe Sanok: So Dan, let’s just say someone doesn’t know what a canonical redirect is. Hypothetically speaking, of course, what would that be?
DW: Yeah. So that is where – sometimes, you can have links that are going to a page on your site that has gone away. Like maybe you have one article about anxiety that you wrote a few years ago, and then you write a new article about anxiety and you get rid of the old one, and the new one has a new URL.
So all of those links that are going to that old article, those are: number one, when somebody clicks on those old links, they just get an error page on your website, and number two, those links aren’t giving you any credibility in Google’s eyes because they’re going to this broken page. So you can set up your site to sort of say, “Hey, the new permanent location of this page is now this other page.” So instead of it being mywebsite/anxiety, now, that should redirect to /anxiety guide, or whatever, and then all of those like endorsements in Google’s eyes, that flows through to the new page, and all of the people that click on the links, again, they go to your new page.
Joe Sanok: So how would you find those links? Like is there a tool that you can use?
DW: Yeah. What I would do is Google for like broken – so you can search for like broken link checkers, which will look on your website and see are you linking anywhere on your website that doesn’t go anywhere. You can also link – I’m blanking a little bit on exactly what it’s called. I think it’s called like a dead link checker, but there are also tools that will look at the things that are linking to you and will tell you, “Is this going anywhere or not?”
A final option is if you set your website up with Google Webmaster Tools, which is totally free, then Google will tell you, “These are the websites that are linking to your pages, and these are the pages that they’re linking to.” And so you can just look at that and you can just manually sort of look at, “What are my pages that are attracting these links, and do all of them work? And if they don’t work, then how do I fix this so that I’m still getting credit for this traffic?”
Joe Sanok: Wow. Those are awesome things. Like I had never heard of the canonical redirect.
DW: Yeah. And again, like the most important thing is to just like do the basics right, like make traffic, get links, but again, if you’re willing to spend an afternoon reading some of the more advanced SEO guides, I mean, the human brain is very, very complex. SEO, not as much. So if you can do therapy, you can figure out some of that stuff.
So that’s some of the opportunities. I think another opportunity that’s very fruitful is like you said, paid advertising. That was my bread and butter for years, especially like advertising on the Google and Bing search engines. The problem with that is that the default ways that – like sort of like the trails that Google leads you down as you’re setting up your campaigns are designed to make Google the most money. They’re not designed to be the most profitable for you.
And so there’s a lot of pitfalls that you can run into as you are setting up your Google AdWords account, which Google AdWords is the system for advertising on the Google search engine. So there’s a lot of mistakes that you can make that will cause you to lose money, but a simple way to get started is to: number one, make sure that you have some kind of conversion tracking set-up. And conversion tracking just means that you can tell if somebody converts, which means that they do the thing that you want them to do. They send you an email, they book a session, they visit a particular page on your website, et cetera, so you want to have some kind of conversion tracking set-up so you can tell if somebody comes through AdWords, am I actually getting anything from it?
And then number two, you want to start – let me try to say this, and you can tell me if this makes sense or if this doesn’t, but there’s different – so in AdWords, you create different keywords that match to the things that people are searching for, and you can have different match types for your keywords, and basically, that means how strictly does the search need to match to the keyword that you’ve typed in?
And so what I recommend as just a starting point is to use exact match keywords, which means that somebody has to type in exactly what your keyword is for it to show. So if your keyword is “anxiety therapist”, then your ad will only show for that search. It won’t show if somebody is searching for “anxiety counselor” or whatever. But I would start with exact match, and then I would put each keyword in its own ad group and have an ad that specifically relates to the keyword in that ad group, and an ad group is a bucket where keywords and ads go.
And so to keep it simple, just put one keyword and one ad in every bucket, and then make sure that the ad relates very specifically to the keyword so that if your keyword is “anxiety therapist”, your ad is all about “anxiety therapist”. It doesn’t talk about PTSD, it doesn’t talk about whatever else. It just talks about anxiety therapy. And then if you’ve got another keyword for PTSD therapist, then that ad just talks about PTSD. It doesn’t talk about anxiety.
And if you sort of have this very, very targeted strategy for AdWords that will usually get you pretty good results. Obviously, there’s more to it, but that is the starting point.
Joe Sanok: Yeah. Do you have any like blog posts or videos or anything that would walk people through that sort of thing, because I feel like it’s just – I think for most people, I’m like, “Oh man.” It’s just scratching the surface. There’s got to be like such a rabbit hole.
DW: Yeah. I will say that I am available to be hired for (indiscernible 00:46:35), so that’s one option. The other thing, I haven’t written anything myself about AdWords and the strategy just because it’s such a big topic, and I’m trying to think of what’s the right balance of saying enough that it can get people started without saying so much that it gets people overwhelmed.
So that’ll probably launch on the marketingfortherapists.org website at some point. I haven’t worked that out yet. What I would recommend is if people really want to get started – I mean, there’s a lot of good AdWords guides out there. I would just do a Google search for AdWords 101.
Like let me see. I think – yeah. AdWords 101, beginners AdWords, things like that, and just like do some reading and go through just a lot of those basic guides. With AdWords, what I would recommend is do a lot of reading, a lot of research before you dive in, and start small, like don’t spend a lot of money, don’t bid very high, and again, make sure that you’ve got that conversion tracking so that you can see if what you’re doing is effective. Because yeah, unfortunately, I don’t have like a one-stop shop, like, “Here’s definitely what you want to read to get started,” so I guess I need to write that.
Joe Sanok: I’m just thinking, like if you just turned QuickTime on – and I don’t know if you have MAC or PC, but QuickTime or Screenflow or Camtasia and just set it like here’s – like even just what you just said like clicking or on showing that. I know for me, AdWords has been so visual that sometimes, it’s tough to visualize that, but I mean, such good steps, I think that that’s super valuable for the more advanced folks that are looking for that, too.
What every counselor in the world must know
So Dan, one thing I always end the interview with is, if every counselor in the world were listening right now, what would want them to take away? Like what’s just something you’d want them to know?
Joe Sanok: That’s a common reaction.
DW: It’s a big question.
Joe Sanok: It is, it is.
DW: Yeah. I mean, I think I really have two answers. The one answer is related to the marketing stuff, which is that – it’s not as hard as you think. Obviously, you probably will not have the time to become a marketing expert, but you can learn some good basic things that will help you a lot if you’re just willing to put in a little bit of time, a little bit of research to learn some of that, and again, my website is designed to get people started. There’s other options for getting started, but like don’t be afraid and don’t think that you need to spend a lot of money to get started. It’s really not as complicated as you think. That would be the first thing.
And then the second thing, which really has nothing to do with marketing – but that’s just that I would just hope that every therapist in the world would know that the work that they do matters, and it matters a lot, and I was just recently talking with a friend that had some trauma in her past and was sort of working through the impacts of that, and the counselor that she’s had has been so invaluable in helping her heal and overcome and get on with her life, and I could tell story after story of experiences that I’ve had or experiences that my friends have had where a therapist or a counselor has just made such a huge impact.
And so I realized that it’s easy to think, “Oh, it’s just another at the office. This is just my job. This is just day-in, day-out,” but like the things that you’re doing, it really matters. It really makes an impact in people’s lives, and so I would hope that everybody listening just has a reminder of why they got into the profession in the first place and how important the work that they do really is.
The amazing give away Dan is giving!
Joe Sanok: That’s so awesome. And Dan, on marketingfortherapists.org/joe, you have an amazing giveaway for our listeners. Like I’m blown away at what you’re offering. So do you want to tell them a little bit kind of the freebie you’re giving folks?
DW: Sure, yeah. So I am offering a free website consultation. So basically, if you fill out my form and you send me the URL to your website, I’ll take a look at it and I will send you a couple of the biggest things that I see that are opportunities to make it better or to fix things or whatever. The goal will be to give you some really actionable insights where you can be like, “Okay, I can make this change,” and suddenly, it’s a lot better. Obviously, my hope is that at least a couple of you will be so blown away by my advice that you’ll decide to hire me to do a little bit of consulting work, but I mean, it’s a free offer for anybody.
Again, I feel like the work that therapists do really matter. I don’t want a client to come to a therapist’s website and have that person leave without getting help, because the website looks like it was made in MS Paint.
Joe Sanok: I forgot about MS Paint.
DW: So yeah. So if you come to marketingfortherapists.org/joe and fill out a little form to let me know what your website is, I’ll take a look. I’ll send you a couple of easy tips for making it better, and hopefully, that’ll help bring you some new clients.
Joe Sanok: Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, Dan Wendler from marketingfortherapists.org, it’s been awesome talking with you today. I feel like we could talk so much more and do like a whole course on just improving websites, and actually, that’s not a bad idea. Now that I say that a lot a whole course on growing websites or something like that, because you just have so much values. So thanks for taking time out of your day today, and have a great rest of your week.
DW: Thanks, you too. It was my pleasure.
Joe Sanok: So I’m going to have all of those resources Dan took us through on the website. He also emailed me that pay-per-click kind of tutorial, the idea of doing Google AdWords 101, and that’s just going to be wordstream.com/learn, but on practiceofthepractice/session88, you can find the link to Bluehost, how you can grow within WordPress, everything about Brighter Vision, that caching plugin, improveyoursocialskills.com. We’ll have link to Dan’s TEDx Talk. I mean, it’s all going to be there at session 88, and thanks again, Brighter Vision, for being our sponsor this time, and we are so excited about everything that’s going on with Practice of the Practice, and pretty soon, the June monthly income report will be out, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be one of the bigger ones, and hopefully, you’re learning from that and growing your income and your influence every single month. And if you’re not, please drop me an email, let me know.
So thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. You guys are so awesome. You inspire me so often with your emails and your encouraging words and what you say on Twitter, and soon, the funny pictures you are going to put on the Instagram. Peace out, see you.
Special thanks to the bands Silence is Sexy and Boogie Belgique. Your music’s a lot of fun. What do you guys think about this music? Pretty awesome, right?
And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, nor publisher, nor the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one, at practiceofthepractice.com/private-practice-consulting or somebody else. That’s fine, too. I won’t be mad. There’s a lot of really cool people out there. All right, bye.